George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Hull, 14 April 1792

From William Hull

Philadelphia April 14th 1792.


Pursuant to the directions of the Officers of the Massachusetts line of the late American Army, I enclosed for your information all the papers which had any relation to the object of my Agency, to Congress.1

I feel it now a duty incumbent upon me to transmit a Copy of a circular address to the Officers of the different [states],2 which will explain the motives which have induced me, not to attempt a Consideration of the subject the present Session, and the further Measures, which I have proposed for the Attainment of the Object of our reasonable Wishes.

It will be a peculiar happiness to the Officers of Massachusetts, if the Measures they are pursuing should meet with the Approbation of him, who was their illustrious leader in War, and is their great exemplar in peace. I have the honor to be with the highest respect, your most obedt and very humble Servt

William Hull

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1The enclosed papers included a printed circular of 28 Feb. from a committee of Mass. officers to the officers of the other American states; a letter to Hull of 5 Mar. from the same committee of Mass. officers; an undated petition from the former officers of the Massachusetts line to Congress; and a printed copy of the memorial that the Mass. officers had presented to Congress over Benjamin Lincoln’s signature (all in DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

The printed circular of 28 Feb. to the officers of the other American states announces the committee’s intention to “prosecute their memorial” to Congress “on the subject of compensation for the losses sustained by them and the soldiers who served during the [Revolutionary] war”; that Hull had been appointed our “Agent to Congress to attend to and explain the nature of our application”; and “that, if you should think it expedient to adopt correspondent measures, our attempt may receive the aid of your advice and assistance.” The letter written to Hull by the committee of Mass. officers on 5 Mar. appoints him their agent and asks him “to prove” to Congress “that the obligations of the Government are as yet undischarged, that their promises to the army remain as yet uncomplied with.” It also instructs Hull to keep the committee informed of what he was doing in Philadelphia and to ask his brother officers from other states for their assistance and advice. The undated petition of the officers of the Massachusetts line to Congress decries “the losses sustained by your memorialists, & the Soldiers beforementioned in consequence of the manner in which they were compensated by the Government of the United States for their services in the field” and informs Congress of the appointment of Hull as the officers’ agent. The printed copy of the undated “Memorial presented by the Officers” of Massachusetts to Congress and signed by Benjamin Lincoln argues that “in consequence of the resolutions of Congress, recommending to the several states to provide payment for the troops raised in them respectively for their services, until the expiration of the year 1780, they received promissary notes from the state of Massachusetts for the arrears of pay due to them within that period. And although the time has expired in which the principal of the said notes became due, they have received but an inconsiderable part either of principal or interest, five years of interest being now due on a certain description of them. From the commencement of January 1781, to the termination of the war, their accounts were settled by a Commissioner appointed from Congress. This Commissioner issued certificates ascertaining the ballances due to them respectively, and declaratory of an interest of six per centum to be annually paid thereon. . . . From the imbecility of the Confederation no funds have been established to support the credit of their certificates; and they have been left to take their value from publick opinion.”

2Hull’s circular to the officers of the other American states, which he signed and dated this day at Philadelphia, announces his attendance “at the seat of government from the 20th of March to the present period”; that “I have it in particular command from the officers of Massachusetts, to request a co-operation of the officers of your line, at the opening of the next session of Congress”; that “the claim of the army is not chimerical, but founded in the clear and eternal principles of justice”; and that he was confident that, in addition to monetary compensation, “Congress will be disposed to make a liberal grant of land in the western territory” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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